After seven years coaching in the NFL, Jeff Hafley has re-immersed himself in the world of college football recruiting.
Rather than holing up in an office and studying strategy, he has been evaluating film of recruits and getting out and about to get to see players who could fill future Ohio State secondaries.
“It has been fun,” the first-year Ohio State secondary coach said when asked about the transition. “It has been fun getting to know the players.”
The New Jersey native has quickly found coming from a school with a reputation for recruiting the best and sending players to the NFL has its perks.
“What has really been cool is just seeing our brand out there and how powerful it is,” he said. “I have walked into schools and just the reception that they give to me and to us has just been awesome.”
He credited the work done over the previous seven years by Urban Meyer, the development by strength coach Mickey Marotti and the way new head coach Ryan Day has continued what Meyer started.
“You walk into a school and our logo carries a strong, strong feel for kids all across the country, and then it is just relationships,” Hafley said. "It is just getting to know a guy, getting to see if he is the right fit for us schematically and is he the right fit for our culture. There are some pretty good people out there and there are some really good parents that I have gotten to know. It has been fun.”
His co-defensive coordinator, Greg Mattison, comes from the opposite end of the spectrum when it comes to experience.
The 69-year-old Mattison also has multiple years of coaching in the NFL on his resume, but he has been back in college since Brady Hoke hired him at Michigan in 2011.
In that time, Mattison developed a reputation as a great recruiter for the Maize and Blue — including when it came to convincing Ohio prospects to cross the border to continue their football careers.
>>TALES FROM THE TRAIL: Area coaches recount Ohio State recruiting stories
How has he adjusted to recruiting for Ohio State since joining Ryan Day’s staff in January?
“The thing I’m finding is everybody works together to get the players,” Mattison said. “It’s not about, ‘I’m recruiting this guy and you’re recruiting that guy.’ It’s a team effort because when they get here they’re all Ohio State defensive players.
“I think right now we’re doing well. Our players, if you’re a recruit and you come around and watch our defensive players you have to be excited. I know I am. They’re young kids with great character. They love the game, and if I’m a recruit and I’m seeing that I’m liking it.”
At the midway point in June, Ohio State has as many defensive commits (IMG Academy defensive back Lejond Cavazos) as special teamers (Cincinnati La Salle kicker Jake Seibert), but that could change by the end of the month.
The first single-day elite camp and an overnight camp are in the rearview mirror with another one-day elite prospects camp scheduled for Saturday.
On top of that, the Buckeyes are set to host a handful of prospects on official visits.
Per LettermanRow.com, they are Akron Hoban linebacker DeaMonte Trayanum, Pickerington Central defensive end Ty Hamilton; Charlotte (N.C.) Providence Day School defensive tackle Jacolbe Cowan; Laurel (Md.) St. Frances Academy running back Blake Corum; Olney (Md.) Good Counsel linebacker Mitchell Melton; Houston (Texas) Cy Ridge defensive tackle Vernon Broughton; Aurora (Colo.) Eaglecrest offensvie lineman Reece Atteberry and Tucson (Ariz.) Salpointe Catholic running back Bijan Robinson.
Next week Ohio State is set to host a seven-on-seven passing camp Monday with its annual “Friday Night Lights" recruiting extravaganza set for Friday at Ohio Stadium.
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